The troubles at Nevada’s Silver State Schools Credit Union, which include a 2% pay cut in September, reverberated across the state again last week, putting a new spotlight on weakened and merger-prone peers. The moves also forced the hand of the Las Vegas chapter network of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.
The retrenchment at the $725 million Silver State, Nevada’s largest, was highlighted by new evidence that its financial condition remains lackluster at best despite a $90,000 first-quarter profit. The across-the-board pay cut will save Silver State $150,000 a year.
In a statement, David Rhamy, president/CEO of the privately insured CU, said that “although we reported a marginal profit for the first quarter of 2011, we remain wary of the Nevada economy and will continue to prepare for difficult financial times ahead.”
Rhamy, who runs Silver State under the watchful eye of an on-premise auditing team hired by American Share Insurance Inc., said the salary reduction affecting 226 employees is in line with an ongoing drive to cut operating expenses, noting that last year Silver State reduced such expenses 15%.
“We are on track to reduce operating expenses another 10% by the end of 2011,” forecast Rhamy.
Earlier this month, the long-ailing Las Vegas CU said it would close two grocery store branches in suburban Henderson, bringing to eight the number of statewide facilities closed since 2009.
Meanwhile, Silver State also revealed that effective this year it has dropped its membership in the California and Nevada Leagues, dealing a sharp blow to an already moribund Las Vegas chapter network with perhaps only eight or fewer Nevada CUs in the southern Nevada chapter.
The top governing members of the chapter, including three employees of Silver State, have reportedly stepped down.
Silver State, now with 12 offices in Las Vegas and Reno, down from the 20 several years ago, retains 64,000 members, but its net worth remains at 4.3%. In February 2010, American Share Insurance extended Silver State a $22 million subordinated cash note, which was renewed earlier this year and counts in its capital.
In reporting on the Silver State condition last week, The Las Vegas Review Journal noted that the CU has $43.7 million in loans more than two months past due. It charged off $6.7 million in loans and recovered $860,000 on charged-off loans during the first quarter.
The ongoing troubles and the shrinking of Silver State Schools Credit Union have also put remaining Las Vegas CUs in the limelight, with at least two struggling CUs, the $14.5 million Stage Employees and the $59 million SONEPCO, prospecting for potential merger partners.
Margaret Lindsey, CEO of Stage, said the NCUA has urged her CU to come up with a minimum of three candidates “and that is something we are working on,” but no deals have been struck as of yet with out-of-state CUs.
In a similar scenario, the $59 million SONEPCO CU said its board is following NCUA recommendations to seek out possible merger suitors, also from out of state. The job of looking for merger prospects has been under way since last year, said Sue Longson, president/CEO, who is also a director of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.
Lindsey of Stage said it has been her board’s hope that the NCUA “will let us weather it out” as the CU has drastically cut expenses. Her CU lost $473,000 in 2010 and is at 4% net worth.
In the same vein, Longson said her CU, which lost $204,000 in the first quarter and is set to restate its 2010 debt allowance stats forcing the CU to show a year-end loss, has endured a difficult struggle in trying like other CUs to dig the CU out of a deep financial hole. The red ink is traced to the high delinquency ratios and the housing collapse bringing on the severe economic downturn which has gripped the city.
The good news, she said, is that “we at last are looking to show some profits and the delinquency rates have declined along with requests for loan modifications.”
“But we are putting in 25-hour days to get there,” said Longson, adding with a sigh, “We’re tired.”
Echoing Longson, Rick Schmidt, president/CEO of the $138 million WestStar, a CU which two years ago was a prime candidate for NCUA conservatorship, has undergone a turnaround “as we’ve developed some very stringent collection rules and made many old-fashioned changes, including more loan modifications to work with our members to keep them in their homes.”
The result has been gratifying, with a dramatic drop in the delinquency rate from 6% to 1.5%. The CU lost $1.4 million in 2010 and already earned $250,000 in the first quarter.
“In no shape or form are we declaring victory because this could all slide back with unforeseen events or conditions but for now things are looking much better,” said Schmidt, who took over WestStar in April 2010 moving from Xceed Financial CU in El Segundo, Calif., where he was chief operating officer.